In early 2011, the Government convened a Peatlands Forum – under the Chairmanship of Judge John Quirke. Following the forum, Judge Quirke recommended that a National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan be devised. Subsequently, Dáil Éireann unanimously supported the recommendation for a national plan to be put in place forIreland’s protected raised bogs
The drafting of this national plan will allow solutions for turf-cutters within each of the 53 raised bogs to be explored in detail. As part of this process, the Government will examine the feasibility of allowing, in a manner consistent with the Habitats Directive, some limited turf cutting within a small number of the 53 bogs.
However, it is only through devising such a plan that the flexibility allowed for by the Habitats Directive in certain circumstances can be unlocked. The Plan will involve a comprehensive examination of all of the SAC bogs on an individual basis with a view to best addressing the needs of turf-cutters and the long-term management of raised bog habitats within our SACs.
In terms of accommodating the needs of turf-cutters, the national plan will build upon the proposals made at the Peatlands Forum, which identified that relocation is a viable proposition for the majority of our SACs. Department officials are now in discussion with a number of groups to bring forward proposals for their bogs.
In addtion, the Department has now finalised an outline document on the proposed approach for the development of the National Plan: